Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declined Sunday to guarantee the safety of his defeated rival Mir Hossein Moussavi in response to a question from CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour.
“There is rule of law in this country and all the people are equal before the law,” Ahmadinejad said when Amanpour asked if he would guarantee Moussavi’s safety. She also asked why opposition leaders had been arrested. “In a soccer match, people may become excited and there may be confrontation between the people and the police force. People who violate traffic regulations will be fined by the police no matter who he is. These are not problems,” Ahmadinejad said. When Amanpour asked a second time if Ahmadinejad would guarantee Moussavi’s safety, he said he had already answered the question. Watch as Amanpour questions Ahmadinejad » There were conflicting reports on whether Moussavi had been placed under house arrest. Some reports indicated that he had been detained. Others said he was at home, conducting meetings but was free to come and go. Guards were stationed outside his house, but it was not immediately clear whether they worked for him or the government.
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Analysts had expected Moussavi, a former prime minister who is regarded as a reformist, to defeat Ahmadinejad. Watch as Ahmadinejad is declared the winner » Moussavi is credited for successfully navigating the Iranian economy during a bloody eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s. And he enjoyed tremendous support among the youth. Iran’s population has a median age of 27. When the ballots were counted, the government declared Ahmadinejad the winner — with 62.63 percent of the vote. Moussavi received 33.75 percent. Moussavi disputed the results, blaming “untrustworthy monitors.” Independent election observers were banned from polling places.
“The results announced for the 10th presidential elections are astonishing,” he said in a statement. “People who stood in long lines and knew well who they voted for were utterly surprised by the magicians working at the television and radio broadcasting.” Angered by the returns, Moussavi’s supporters took to the streets Saturday. With handkerchiefs and surgical masks shielding them from the pungency of tear gas, they clashed openly with police in a rare challenge to the regime. Watch angry protesters take to streets »